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If Keith Butler Spot Drops, The Steelers Lose

Dear Keith Butler,

I’m not asking for much. This weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is in a tough spot against a great offense. There are no easy answers and hey, I’m typing this from mom’s basement where the hardest decisions in my day is Bagel Bites vs Pizza Rolls.

But I swear on a stack of Terrible Towels, if you play spot drop, zone coverage against the Patriots, I’m shipping you back to Memphis.

A reminder for anyone reading. Spot dropping is true zone coverage. Defenders sit in spots, play areas of the field, not matching up on receivers. Sometimes, it’s a good thing. Not against these guys.

Beating New England takes a village. More than one man, more than one scheme. But straight vanilla, watch paint dry boring spot drop? Use it and I’ll start a petition to get you banned at Primantis.

I don’t care what else you try. Man, pattern matching, blitzing, heck, I’m kosher with sending three, a sight enough to send every Pittsburgh uncle into a spasm. All have merit, all have a reason and chance to be effective.

But spot dropping? Yeah…we’ve seen that story before. It ends with the Steelers scratching their heads, trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

Don’t think New England won’t test it. You can bet they’re going to run four verts, get Rob Gronkowski down the seam, seeing if anyone carries him downfield. A single high safety is screwed vs four verts in pure zone coverage and even if the quarterback throws near him, Tom Terrific is going to spin that ball in the perfect place every time.

Let me put it simply. Spot dropping zone doesn’t work. Maybe against middling to bad quarterbacks, where you can force them to checkdown and try to put together 12 play drives. But Brady is more than happy to do that all day and he’ll move the ball, just like he did in the 2015 opener. Cover 3 on the first few plays? Brady just hit the curl, time and time again, until he took his shot.

I get it. It isn’t all about man. Anyone who thinks press man is the cure-all is just screaming into the void because it’s something different. If there was a one-size-fits-all approach to beating Tom Brady, he wouldn’t be Tom Brady. He’d be just another guy. He’d be Landry Jones. But spot dropping has to be left off the menu.

Sure, maybe in some third and longs, where the Steelers play a lot of Cover 2, it can work. But a light touch, and I do mean light, is going to give Pittsburgh’s depleted defense its best chance.

Run straight Cover 3 and I’ll toss my TV out the window. Let receivers run free all over the field and I’ll wish you an eternal life of eating Skyline Chili. Give up the five yard curl each play and I’ll make Pacman Jones file your tax returns.

Please, please, for the love of everything Myron Cope, do not do the same old, classic Steelers’ defense. I’m a spoiled rotten Steelers’ fan. I’ll stamp my feet. Hold my breath. Make you turn this car around. Because the only thing more obnoxious than a liquored Yinzer is a smug Bostonian. If the Patriots win it all again, you know Mark Wahlberg will make a move out of it. He’ll play #12. It’ll just be called Brady with the tagline, He’s Wicked Smaht. 

Gahhh. I can’t handle that thought.

And I can’t handle the same old zone coverage.

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